Saturday, March 14, 2015

Food Oasis


For several years, my students and I have been among those discussing food deserts. I mentioned it in my 2011 post Dignity Desert, about a KFC ad campaign that seemed at first to be a parody and in 2013 in Vertical Katrina. Some of my students and I have used the USDA Food Access Research Atlas to understand the spatial patterns of the problem, and more recently I have found that Feeding America is helping people not only to find information about food, but to find food itself.

Chef Ismael Samad
It is in this context that I read about Chef Ismael Samad, who is among a growing number of people taking creative, direct action to address the problem of a food availability in urban areas. I learned about his work while visiting rural Vermont, where I found a copy of vermont's LOCAL BANQUET in our room. Being interested in both food and food geography, I was glad to find it.

I was especially interested to see that Chef Samad -- trained as a chef and as an environmental biologist -- is helping to bring the energy of the gleaning movement to the problem of urban food availability.

The result is a restaurant set to open on Codman Square in Dorchester that will offer better food at a lower price than competing fast-food outlets. The Daily Table article emphasizes the fact that the gleaning movement is not about substandard food: it is about putting good food to good use, when it would otherwise be wasted. By using such food for about 60 to 70 percent of its ingredients, this new restaurant will offer casual meals or ingredients that facilitate healthy home cooking, at an attractive price.

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